Friday, 4 October 2013

Non-deductive public health reasoning?

In a new article, Louise Cummings explores alternative ways of thinking about the logic of public health reasoning.

She argues that the deductive paradigm has produced notable successes in epidemiology and public health. But while deductive logic has made a substantial contribution to the public health field, it must be recognized that there are also limits to that contribution. This report examines one such limit: the need for non-deductive models in public health reasoning. The findings of a study of public health reasoning in 879 members of the public are reported. Four non-deductive strategies were chosen for their capacity to bridge gaps in one's knowledge. It emerged that subjects were adept at using these strategies in the absence of knowledge to arrive at judgements about public health problems. The implications of this finding for public health communication are discussed.

Cummings, L. (2013) 'Public health reasoning: Much more than deduction', Archives of Public Health, 71:25. doi: 10.1186/0778-7367-71-25.

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